The priest Erick Díaz, pastor of the San José Obrero church in El Tuma – La Dalia, in Matagalpa, exiled to protect his life and freedom from the persecution of the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo against the Catholic Church, dedicated himself in the last two years to accompany the people suffered by the sociopolitical crisis and the covid-19 pandemic, placing it as an uncomfortable figure for the dictatorship, from which it escaped being imprisoned.
“I only wanted to be a priest close to the people to listen to them, to encourage them, but that situation was not well seen. Lately, when the persecution of the Church increased, more specifically of some priests who were closer to the people,” the priest said in an interview with the digital medium Mosaic CSI.
Daniel Ortega’s regime keeps six priests, two seminarians and a layman imprisoned in El Chipote, while the bishop of the Diocese of Matagalpa and apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Estelí, Monsignor Rolando Álvarez, has been in jail for more than a month, allegedly being investigated for trying to “organize violent groups,” allegedly “with the purpose of destabilizing the State of Nicaragua and attacking the constitutional authorities.”
Siege against priests
Díaz, 33, was one of the two priests that the Police prevented from participating in the reception of the image of the Virgin of Fatima, in the San Pedro Cathedral, in Matagalpa, on August 14. During that week the siege increased.
The police stationed themselves near the entrance to his parish and hurled insults, they also harassed the religious activities in which he participated and even entered the church, dressed in civilian clothes, to photograph and film the priest’s Eucharist, who was warned by a source that “they were going through this server”, he denounced the digital medium.
“A good Nicodemus told me that they were going for this server. They had alerted me because I have been a clear voice, and when it comes to the dignity of the person I have always defended it and I will always defend it because the dignity of man is the most sacred thing that every human being has because it has been bought with blood, in this case, Jesus Christ shed his blood to restore us and to buy our dignity, and that is sacred, and as a man of God and as a priest we will always defend the dignity of the person, “said the priest.
Priest Díaz was ordained on November 24, 2017 by Bishop Álvarez, and is the second priest of the Diocese of Matagalpa to publicly confirm his forced exile through his social networks.
“My only crime was being on the side of truth, on the side of the long-suffering people, in defense of the rights of every citizen. The Church has never been defending ideas, because it is not its mission”, the priest stressed.
Before, Father Uriel Vallejos, besieged by the Police for three days within his own parish in Sébaco, had assured that he left the country through paths to protect his life, according to what he reported from Italy. In addition to Vallejos and Díaz, two other priests from the same diocese and a seminarian went into exile at the beginning of September.
“From the social doctrine of the Church I accompanied the people in their situations of suffering and pain, however, I didn’t think that was a crime to announce the Gospel and putting into practice the gospel of the Good Samaritan, of solidarity, of the affection of a pastor close to his people,” the priest told Mosaico CSI.
From exile, Father Díaz motivated Nicaraguans to maintain the defense of freedom and universal human rights, ensuring that as a priest “It is our duty, it is our commitment as a Christian because we cannot remain silent in the face of the injustices that are committed against our people.”
Do not lose hope
The Ortega regime maintains a crusade against the Catholic Church, which several analysts have considered unprecedented in the recent history of the country. The religious have been expelled, prohibited from entering the national territory, persecuted, besieged, insulted, physically and verbally attacked, spied on in their churches and prevented from mobilizing as part of their pastoral work and imprisoned and sentenced as happened with Father Manuel García and Monsignor Leonardo Urbina.
In September, religious sources and parishioners from the departments of Nueva Segovia and Madriz denounced that several priests in those areas were prohibited from carrying out processions, activities in public, and a priest was even reported prevented from traveling to the communities. Recently, the Eucharists in honor of Saint Jerome and Saint Michael the Archangel, As the beginning of the patron saint festivities in Masaya, they were besieged by a strong police deployment aimed at preventing the processions of the images.
Despite this hostile context of the Ortega regime against the Church and its pastors, Father Díaz recalled that Bishop Álvarez has been one of the religious who has preached the most about maintaining hope, and for that reason, he urged the people not to lose it.
“Even if we go through the pain, even if we go through the suffering, something better is coming, and that is what is being built in Nicaragua, a new future, but of course, we have to go through the suffering, through the pain to achieve that desired freedom. for thousands and thousands of Nicaraguans and families that are disintegrated by migration, by so many things, but God has the last word and God does not abandon us,” he said.